Friday, October 7, 2016

Slow Learner and/or Incapable Vs. Skill Deficient

Have you ever heard of teachers, coaches, parents or others describe some student with negative words?  Well, working with college athletes in an academic setting, we learned some valuable lessons.  Most, if not all, were merely skill deficient, not unable to learn.  When we drilled down to actually learn the experiences of these Division I and stellar athletes, we learned that those struggling the most had similar stories.  Here are a few examples:
  • I only went to high school classes on Fridays because that was game day.
  • I wanted to take some more advanced classes but my teachers said to take those that I could actually pass so that I could be eligible.
  • I could have been very interested in Art but my teacher said if I moved tables around and kept the classroom in order, she would give me an "A".
  • We moved around from city to city and school to school so that I never got comfortable enough to learn.
  • Sleeping many nights in your car doesn't help you with academics.
So, the judgmental comments we heard did not add up!  Here are just a few vital behaviors and action steps we implemented with each:
  • Build solid, trusting relationships
  • Listen, listen, listen
  • Ask serious questions regarding academic experiences
  • Work together to develop a plan
I must expound on the last bullet point, "Work together to develop a plan".  It is imperative that we build a plan that the person is comfortable with and that they can believe in.  You have read too many times from me that people support what they help build.  The student-athlete knows there is so much riding on eligibility that they really do want (perhaps need?) help in advancing skills.

Finally, we are always aware of and awestruck by the prospect of a young person getting a college degree.  It impacts not only the person, but generations to come. 

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